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Marten, Lutz, Gibson, Hannah, Guérois, Rozenn and Jerro, Kyle (2024) 'Morphosyntactic variation in Old Swahili.' In: Gibson, Hannah, Guérois, Rozenn, Mapunda, Gastor and Marten, Lutz, (eds.), Morphosyntactic variation in East African Bantu languages: Descriptive and comparative approaches. Berlin: Language Science Press, pp. 383-420. (Contemporary African Linguistics, vol.8)

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The comparative and historical study of Bantu and other African languages is often based on contemporary, synchronic data since many African languages do not have a long-written record. In contrast, for Swahili such a record exists in the form of an extensive tradition of written poetic texts. This study presents a comparison of the language used in these texts with present-day Standard Swahili, focusing on morphosyntactic variation. Harnessing the morphosyntactic parameters of Guérois et al. (2017), we show that present-day Swahili differs from Old Swahili in terms of loss of variability and loss of morphosyntactic forms, with only limited cases of innovation. We also show that compared to a sample of 18 neighbouring East African Bantu languages, Standard Swahili shows less similarity to these neighbouring languages than Old Swahili. We propose that these differences are related to the sociolinguistic development of Swahili as a language of wider communication, and the processes of standardisation and regularisation this involved

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics > Department of Linguistics
ISBN: 9783985540914
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2024 13:25
Related URLs: https://langsci ... atalog/book/383 (Publisher URL)
Funders: Leverhulme Trust

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